Whether it's a police detective who investigates crimes or a private detective hired to find a missing person, a detective is someone whose job is to find out hard-to-get information.

Detective comes from the Latin root detectus meaning to uncover or expose. Detectives detect, or discern and uncover the truth, the way a dog might detect an odor and uncover a bone. Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the most famous detective in fiction, used disguises, deductive reasoning and forensics to solve crimes. "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth," he famously said.

Definitions of detective
  1. noun
    a police officer who investigates crimes
    synonyms: investigator, police detective, tec
    see moresee less
    dick, gumshoe, hawkshaw
    someone who is a detective
    a detective who wears civilian clothes on duty
    an investigator who is employed to find missing persons or missing goods
    type of:
    officer, police officer, policeman
    a member of a police force
  2. noun
    an investigator engaged or employed in obtaining information not easily available to the public
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    PI, operative, private detective, private eye, private investigator, shamus, sherlock
    someone who can be employed as a detective to collect information
    sleuth, sleuthhound
    a detective who follows a trail
    hotel detective, house detective, house dick
    a private detective employed by a hotel or retail store
    inquiry agent
    a private detective
    store detective
    a private detective employed by a merchant to stop pilferage
    type of:
    someone who investigates
Word Family